During the summer season, a lot of construction is being done in San Diego. The type of construction ranges but not limited to; residential and commercials buildings, bridges, street and highway work.
A lot of heat can interfere with a person’s body cooling system which can cause heat stress and heat exhaustion with various symptoms such as dizziness, heavy sweating, nausea, weakness, and headaches just to mention a few. This can affect a person indoors and outdoors.
The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is urging employer’s to take precautions against heat-related illnesses during the current deadly heat wave(1995). California Occupational Safety and Health Administration(CalOSHA) has adopted this same measures to protect employees from heat. As a result of temperatures soaring at times above the 100-degree mark, CalOSHA and Federal OSHA has been receiving numerous calls from employees working in hot environments.
Employers whose workers are employed in hot environments such as laundries, construction projects, bakeries to name a few can help prevent heat related illnesses, including heat stress and heat exhaustion by following some simple guidelines:
• Drink plenty of water as much as a quart per worker per hour.
• Train first-aid workers to recognize and treat heat stress.
• Worker’s physical condition should be considered when determining fitness to work in hot environments. (Older workers, obese workers, and people on some type of medications are at greater risk).
• Alternating work and rest periods, allowing for longer than usual breaks. Heavy work if possible should be scheduled during the cooler parts of the day and appropriate protective clothing provided.
Employee education is vital so that workers are aware of the need to replace fluids and
salt lost through perspiration, recognition of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat strokes as heat disorders. Workers can take preventive measures to protect themselves against the heat:
• By eating light.
• Drinking lots of fluids (at least 8 ounces per half hour).
• Wearing the proper type and amount of clothing (Light in color opposed to dark that absorbs the rays from the sun more).
• Seek medical help.
For more information on heat illness prevention and training materials visit the Cal/OSHA Web site at http://www.dir.ca.gov/heatillness. Employees with work-related questions or complaints may call the California Workers’ Information Hotline at 1-866-924-9757.
By understanding and recognizing the symptoms of heat stress and how it can affect you, taking the precautionary treatments will assist in not letting heat stress get you down.
Copyrighted by Matthew J. Key from his forthcoming book “The Safety Corner”.